Whitney Goldsberry, MD, fellow at the University of Alabama's Division of Gynecologic Oncology, discusses findings from her and colleagues' recent analysis of cost-sharing trends for PARP inhibitors in ovarian cancer treatment.
Whitney Goldsberry, MD, a fellow at the University of Alabama's Division of Gynecologic Oncology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, discusses findings from her and colleagues' recent analysis of cost-sharing trends for PARP inhibitors in ovarian cancer treatment.
Payers had the highest cost in your analysis, but nearly half of the patients in the study utilized financial assistance programs to gain access to PARP inhibitors. What does this say in terms of co-pays being a potential financial barrier to these therapies?
Fortunately, we found that patient out-of-pocket costs were actually generally low. About 75% of patients paid less than $5 a month for their prescriptions. And there were outliers—there was one patient in our study who paid over $3,000 for just a one-month supply. Therefore, in the ability of patients to access [these drugs], co-pays could be a potential financial barrier. To aid in that, we utilize specialty pharmacists who actually assist in obtaining financial assistance for patients, which could include things like co-pay assistance, or sometimes even a free drug from different manufacturers.
PARP inhibitors have seen several new indications since they were first approved for ovarian cancer treatment in 2014. What trends did you see in cost over time?
Although our study was limited by a small number, we didn't note a few general patterns. The overall monthly cost of PARP inhibitors appeared to actually decrease from 2017 to 2019. Similarly, the monthly costs covered by payers appeared to decrease slightly, reflecting a decrease in the overall cost. Through this, thankfully, the out-of-pocket cost actually remained very low. We did notice that the contribution of financial assistance programs did increase over time, which may reflect improved utilization of existing financial assistance programs. These trends will be very important as we move forward in the broader applications of these drugs.